Stakeholders in the dispensation of justice have welcomed introduction of a primary justice system aimed at curbing congestion in the country’s prisons, Malawi Primary Justice (MPJ) programmes coordinator for the South, Dalitso Mipando has said.
In primary justice, smaller cases are handled at community level thereby helping to reduce numbers of people being remanded to prison. MPJ has over the past few months been conducting sensitisation meetings across the country.
Recently, communities in Traditional Authority Kuntaja in Blantyre were oriented on how to deal with land disputes and property grabbing cases.
Mipando said the trainings are targeting 160 members of village tribunals in every traditional authority in all the targeted zones.
“The programme is targeting to help vulnerable groups with emphasis on women and children in as far as access to primary justice is concerned. This programme has in a way helped to reduce the traffic of cases to police which might have ended up in custodial sentences,” he said.
According to Mipando, marriage issues, land conflicts and settlement of deceased estates are some of the common cases that village tribunals are handling.
One of the participants of the trainings, Norton Gona, member of Samama Village tribunal in Blantyre said the initiative has so far increased awareness as to how smaller civil cases can be handled at community level while all criminal cases are referred to police.
“We appreciate that since the inception of this programme we have benefitted in a number of areas including the shortening of distance to access justice but also there is an increase in community harmony. If some of these cases were taken to police or court, we could see clashes between rival sides in the end,” he said.
The programme was introduced across the country in 2008 and runs up to November this year.
It is being funded by UKAid and Department for International Development (DfID) and is being managed by Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of Lilongwe Diocese. n